Former police chief on JonBenet Ramsey case hosts Reddit AMA, says investigation was mishandled

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Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her home Dec. 26, 1996.

Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her home Dec. 26, 1996.

BOULDER, Colo. (PIX11) — The former police chief who spearheaded the JonBenet Ramsey case is speaking out about how police botched the initial handling of the crime scene.

On Saturday, former police Chief Mark Beckner participated in an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit titled “I am former Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner. I worked in law enforcement for 36 years, and headed the investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey murder. AMAA.” He posted it Feb. 21 to the Reddit subsection of Unresolved Mysteries.

To prove his legitimacy, Beckner posted a photo of himself holding a sign reading, “Hello Reddit.”

Former Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner holds a sign to prove to Reddit that it was him. (Imgur)

Former Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner holds a sign to prove to Reddit that it was him. (Imgur)

Six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her home on Dec. 26, 1996. Her mother, Patsy called police to say her daughter was missing and a ransom note had been found.

When asked about the missteps of the case, Beckner says police should have separated JonBenet’s parents and gotten full statements that day. He says police were short-staffed for the holiday and faced an unprecedented case. He said letting them go “was a big mistake” and they were unable to formally interview them until five months after the murder. When asked about the interaction between JonBenet’s parents, he said they “rarely interacted and this did not seem normal given the circumstances.”

One of the biggest questions surrounding the case was if there was an intruder the night of of the murder. Beckner said it’s unknown how an intruder may have gotten in and most investigators did not believe there was a legitimate point of entry. Lou Smit, who worked on the case, believed the point of entry was the basement window. Beckner said most didn’t agree with him because the “dust and spider web were undisturbed.”

Another area Beckner believed was “inappropriate” was the involvement of Boulder District Attorney’s office under Alex Hunter. “They interfered in the investigation by being roadblocks to get things done,” said Beckner. “They did not want to do a grand jury until forced to.”

After the Ramsey case, changes were implemented in the DA’s office. Police never allowed the DA to get that involved in a case again. “Today, the new DA is great to work with and the police and DA’s office work as a team,” said Beckner.

He also addressed whether a stun gun was used.

“Stun gun – no. The coroner and others who looked at the abrasion did not believe it came from a stun gun,” Beckner said. “The distance between the two marks did not match the probes of any stun gun we found. Stun guns are loud and hurt like crazy – which would have probably elicited some screaming. That probably would have woke someone up.”

One Redditor asked about possible sources of unidentified DNA on JonBenet’s clothing. Beckner said you can often tell where DNA comes from, but in this case it was too small to tell. Investigators thought it was either sweat or saliva. Sources of the DNA could have included intentional placement, interactions with another person and manufacturing process.

After several Redditors he says misinterpreted some of his comments, Beckner went on the record to clear the air.

“I want to emphasize that I do not fully know what happened that night or who killed JonBenet, as some may have surmised,” Beckner said. “If anyone did, this would not be a mystery. This is why I do not speculate. I simply answered questions as truthfully as possible and only on things that have already been reported.”

Beckner said after he retired, he began teaching in the criminal justice program at Norwich University.

No one has been prosecuted and Beckner emphasized that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.